If there’s one thing many Masons can agree on, it’s their affinity to the History Channel’s (A&E Networks) decade and counting runaway hit series “Ancient Aliens.” Many (count me into this group) have seen so many repeating episodes it’s a wonder we know anything else might be on if it’s playing.
Then again, if it’s in “marathon mode?” There is nothing else, the channel gets pegged as we watch for the zillionth time why when there’s no real proof to prove a conclusion for X. (i.e., what or why?) We all await what we know is coming next with our Bingo cards at the ready, to see just which host or guest will say it first.
For those that may not get the gist of the above, or never watched the program. Here’s the short version…
The obvious answer that’ll be rendered to those who are longtime fans (aka addicted) know all too well, is of course: “It’s a portal!” Or, it’s something that will render one to facilitate the time continuum for our “ancient ancestors” to intervene on our behalf.
In other words, when in doubt: It’s a portal! Case solved.
So now many of you are probably asking yourselves: So what does any of this have to do with Masonry?
Good question, and it’s this…
If one talks about Freemasonry to many a Mason and asks a pertinent question regarding a what-or-why matter in relation to ritual? More often than not what you’ll receive is something in line with a conclusion rendered via the aforementioned. i.e., replace “It’s a portal!” with “Making good men better!” (MGMB). The point that’s trying to be made here is that many regurgitate the MGMB motto much like the TV series uses the term “It’s a portal!” i.e., it explains nothing via a definitively delivered statement, then encapsulating itself to only circular logic conclusions and/or reasonings.
Or said differently - it’s the equivalent for a retort of substance much like that of a teenager “Because!” i.e., It both says and solves nothing.
(To be clear, I take no issue with the MGMB statement, I actually revere it, however, it’s in its current knee-jerk usage as to what, when, and/or why that I push back against.)
Let me ask this question: If Masons are supposed “formerly good men - now made better” then please explain to me the sensible reasoning for the absolute disgusting diatribes posted across social media via Brothers to explain their positioning and reasoning on any topic they find opposite of theirs?
It’s OK, I’ll wait.
Or maybe you can answer this one?
If this same cohort are members of a society that practices civility and moral ethics. Then why is it that some of the most vile undertones against another Brother's opinions, conclusions or questions on many a subject (i.e., esoteric and/or other masonic education et. al.) are greeted with such repulsive language and insinuation, one would dare not say it to another's face for fear of old school reprisal? Yet, many feel absolutely vindicated to do so with reckless abandonment, both in public and in print. Oh yeah, and many times others just piling on with a quaint “SMIB” as if that somehow makes things more emphatically valid. The underlying issue here is this: Far too often it is this same cadre of self-righteous posing Brothers perpetrating all the offensive illustrations all the while decreeing that it is they which are the ones that not only know why membership levels are low but hilariously, just what needs to be done as to increase them.
It’s all patently ludicrous to anyone that takes the fraternity and its secrets not just to heart, but to reverence, and they watch or read these arguments with their indignant overtones of all-knowing and self-anointment. Sorry, skip that, it’s more along the lines of pathetic.
Brothers are arguing that “Things shouldn’t be changed because that’s the way it’s always been!” All the while appearing absolutely clueless to the fact that what they’re arguing to “keep” is itself a radical change from what came prior.
Talk about any plausibilities for the importance of underpinning regarding any part of Ritual, Lodge, Chairs, and more? i.e., Do we need to go back to whence we came? Change out something for another? Et cetera, et cetera. And many times what you’ll get is something far closer to an Ancient Aliens conclusion than anything embodying prior, provable, recorded facts. The discussions devolve into the vapid and inane.
In other words, unlike the TV show, our fraternity has many of the founding documents to both support or dismay many so-called “enlightened opinions.”
One can research or read already well-researched insights by others where many a change/changes were made, along with the when and why.
That is - if, one cares to do just that. However, what seems to be taking place far more often than not is it is this ever vociferous crowd who seems to be precisely the ones that have done neither. You can tell just by their arguments.
Let me pose my hypothesis for the “That’s the way it’s always been!” set concerning The Craft…
Freemasonry was never constructed to be some “frat-boy” stylized social club with fancy garments and secret handshakes to be anything resembling any “Cool Kids Club.”
It has always been an esoteric (aka metaphysical) based refuge for men of intellect and great reasoning powers to look deep into Man’s relationship with his (or her’s) creator, along with our purpose and place in the universe at large.
Many of us (again, count me in this group) are trying desperately to reignite its once brilliant flame as to save it from the dumpster fire of today’s wanna-be social club purveyors. And as more data is collected, it appears the former is proving the latter are the ones that “Just don’t get it.”
Yes, we do have both old, new, and ever-changing processes and will continue to do so that fulfill the MGMB promise. However, it’s disheartening that far too many today can only allude to them in a reflexive manner, without truly understanding what it all actually means and precisely how it is accomplished and why.
Again, the notion that someone like Mozart, Voltaire, Washington (did you know he was one?) Franklin and others would join this fraternity, or even seek to find out more info after reading a few of these social media diatribes, is absolute utter and complete nonsense. Not to mention embarrassing to those of us that do.
Again, men like that would be repelled if they read such commentary and would instantly discern that no fraternity that allowed such to be professed in public spaces could ever be following the values it says it demands of members.
Think about it.
Let me provide just one example for anyone thinking my conclusions about change, or what came before, might be off base. To wit:
(Image source: “Freemasonry, A Journey through Ritual and Symbol” Pg. 72. W. Kirk MacNulty. Provided via the express written consent to the author from the publisher, THAMES AND HUDSON, London.
The above depicts a principle form of Western metaphysics via masonic symbolism that was delivered via a Lecture in many a gathering of Brothers in the 1700’s.
Here’s the important question to this, ready?
Please explain to yourself the reason why the “Blazing Star” is positioned where it is and not where most assume it always is and should be?
Hint: Here’s what does not explain it - reflexive MGMB statements or anything concerning “a social group.”
So, take your time and see what you come up with. Or, better yet, maybe you can ask another from our ancient past using the ever-present “portal” in every Lodge room. After all, why else would the North be treated the way it is, right? Right?
Mark St. Cyr